It has to have been like ten years since I’ve read Ezekiel, because I don’t remember any of the stuff I’ve come across since beginning to re-read it a week ago.
Thing #1 I don’t remember…
I don’t remember God telling Ezekiel that he needed to eat bread cooked over human dung. I don’t remember Ezekiel being like, “Whoa… that’s crazy unclean!” and God being like, “Okay, I’ll allow you to eat bread cooked over cow dung instead.”
Thing #2 I don’t remember…
I don’t remember God telling Ezekiel to go into the middle of the city and cut some of his hair off and burn it, and cut some of it off and let it blow away in the wind, and cut some more of it off and bind it to his robe. Mind you, I get that all of that is symbolic of the Israelites and their just punishment.
Thing #3 I don’t remember…
I don’t remember God saying that he was going to kill the idolaters, scatter their bones around their idols for everyone to see, and then saying in Ezekiel 6:9 & 10, “… then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”
Now, I’ve totally read Job, and even though I don’t fully accept my place in the world, I intellectually grasp the idea that God is great and I am not. I get that, like Job, “I am of small account,” and wasn’t present when He laid the foundations of the earth. I didn’t determine its measurements, command the morning and cause the dawn to know its place, or walk the recesses of the deep (Job 38 & 40). And so I don’t bring this up to be imply that God is wrong, but just to put forth one of those things in the Bible that I really don’t understand, because the entire book of Ezekiel so far seems SO messed up to me. And I don’t know that I’d have been obedient had God commanded me as he commanded Ezekiel.
Not only did God tell Ezekiel to do some pretty crazy things, but he also said that if Ezekiel didn’t obey and warn the wicked, “his [the wicked person’s] blood I will require at your hand,” (3:18). Then we also have Hebrews 10:31 that tells us “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” and I shiver at the thought of the prophet’s plight. Last night, Lori and I were talking about how there’s probably not much that’s more difficult in the whole history of the world than to be a prophet sent by God. There have been times when I’ve said things that I believe God put me in certain places to say, but we’re talking about tiny rebukes like, “You know, maybe you shouldn’t talk about that person that way,” but never anything like, “So… I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but if you don’t get your whoring heart under control and leave your wicked ways, God’s plan is to kill you and put your bones on display for the world.” Additionally, the people who I’ve had to rebuke generally respond by grudgingly agreeing that I’m right, or crying. Somehow, I don’t think the upcoming chapters of Ezekiel chronicle the tears of the Israelites or how they stopped being friends with Ezekiel but also stopped worshipping idols.
I don’t get how it’s possible that Ezekiel was so thoroughly faithful and obedient that he ate bread cooked over dung, cut off all his hair and did odd things with it for everyone to see, and told his neighbors that they were evil and God planned to scatter many of them throughout the earth and kill the rest. That kind of thing takes a greater trust than I possess.